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Crossing the Finish Line During Divorce

3 min read

By Lisa Arends
May 11, 2021

woman crossing finishing line with sunset in background
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I had no business signing up for a half marathon. But I did it anyway.

I was a late-in-life runner, never even attempting it until my thirtieth birthday. I started out on a quarter mile track, making it only halfway around on my first attempt. I stayed with it over the next two years, slowly adding distance until I could comfortably run five miles.

I was satisfied with my routine, and I would always laugh off any suggestions that I should sign up for a race.

Until my ex-left.

Then, suddenly, I was fixated on the idea of signing up for a race. And even though I really had no business attempting a thirteen-mile distance, the decision ended up being one of the best I made throughout my divorce.

Doing something with a finish line has benefits well beyond the obvious.

Don't worry if you're not a runner. You can approach a finish line on wheels, on water, or even just by walking. If that does not appeal, enroll in a course that ends with a certification. Sign up for a class that has a culminating project or presentation. Build or create something that has a clear point where you can say you're done. The only requirements are that it is something that takes time, commitment and sustained effort, and concludes with a defined end.

Here's what you can expect to gain once you cross your own finish line:


Positive Focus

Maintaining a good attitude is the single most important attribute during divorce. And it's also the hardest. The goal of a finish line helps to keep your attentions turned toward something encouraging and attainable.


The rejection and stigma associated with divorce can do a number on your self-assurance. The only way to truly build confidence is to accomplish something that you find challenging. Each step you take toward your own finish line will be a step toward a stronger and more optimistic you.


The first divorce kicks you down. And then inertia keeps you down. A finish line gives you a reason to get up, motivation to keep moving, structure to keep you honest, and progress to keep you encouraged.

Goal Rehearsal 

Many post-divorce goals feel impossibly huge—new home, new budget, somehow raising good kids and surviving single parenting, and maybe even finding new love. A finish line is like life, simplified. It's practice working toward and reaching a goal that is smaller in scope and shorter in duration before you tackle the bigger aspirations.

Revived Identity

Before the divorce, "husband" or "wife" was probably a substantial component of your identity—and now there's a void, an opening. When you sign up for something with a finish line, you're assuming a new identity, whether it be runner or scholar, and along the way, finding your new tribe.

Limited Unhealthy Behaviors

It's easy to turn to destructive habits in an attempt to manage the difficult emotions that arise during divorce. The structure and accountability of a finish line offer some resistance to the pull of the next drink, another doughnut, or just one more hour of Netflix.

Positive Transformation

Divorce changes you. You can't stop the transformation, but you can direct it. Your efforts toward your finish line are making you stronger, more confident, more capable and more humble. Each step is one step closer to a new you, a better you.


The day of my first half-marathon dawned cold and wet. I was excited and nervous in equal measure. My body ran the first part of the race until my limbs started to fail. Then my mind picked up and completed the event, running on pure tenacity and determination.

By the time the finish line was in sight, I was depleted. Those last few steps felt like an impossibility. Yet, somehow, I made it across. I turned to look back, my tears meeting the rain streaming down my face.

I made it. I was on the other side. And in that moment, I knew I could make it to the other side of my divorce as well.

If you are experiencing marital difficulties, please visit DivorceForcePRO to speak with one of our experts. To learn more about our Community, visit DivorceForce.com.  

Written by Lisa Arends

Lisa Arends is a divorcee working to inspire others to move forward, recenter, and repurpose their lives. She has written the "How-To-Thrive Guide." Learn more about "thriving" and be inspired by visiting LessonsFromTheEndOfAMarriage.com.

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